Moving by Aimee

 
TITLE: Moving
AUTHOR: Aimee
RATING: G
SPOILERS: None, really, not if you're at all familiar with the events of the past season. But, technically, I guess there are some for "Coronation."
SUMMARY: Angel tells Sam she's moving out. (My story summaries really suck; can you tell?)
WARNING: This is a f/f slash story. It's G-rated, which means there's no sex or anything like that, but if even the assumption of a relationship between two women bothers you, then don't read this.
DISCLAIMER: Sam, Angel, and all things Profiler-related belong to Sander/Moses Productions, Three-Putt Productions, and NBC (not that they know what to do with them). I am infringing on their copyright by writing this story, but somehow I just can't bring myself to care too much.
FEEDBACK: Everything from constructive criticism to outright praise is welcome at
aimee_2@hotmail.com.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Okay, so continuity has never been Profiler's strongest point. Even so, the first few episodes of this past season left me dissatisfied with many, many things. One of them was the way Angel has apparently fallen victim to the great Disappearing Character plague. Her absence has been handled slightly better than Nathan's or Marcus's (both of whom seemed to be abducted by aliens over the summer), but still! This story is my explanation for where she went.

"Moving," a post-Coronation story
by Aimee

"What do you think of this?" Sam asked, holding the paper out to Angel over the cluttered breakfast table. "Four bedrooms, one with a skylight -- that'd be perfect for your studio, strong natural light -- and it's in Buckhead, but at a price we can afford. Nice neighborhood, good schools for Chloe...Angel?" She rustled the paper a little, as if trying to get her friend's attention.

"Sounds nice," Angel replied flatly. She didn't glance up from her plate, focusing instead on her bagel. She took a determined bite, hoping to ward off further discussion.

There was a startled silence. "Uh...okay." Out of the corner of her eye, Angel could see the paper hover uncertainly in the air for a moment more, then drop to the tabletop at a point almost exactly halfway between the two of them -- neutral territory. "I just thought...well, we can talk about it later, I guess."

She swallowed. "Good," she mumbled, then took a sip of orange juice. It was a tactical error; juice slid too easily down the throat, leaving room for words. So when Sam said, "What's the matter; you don't like Buckhead? Too snobby?", Angel found herself snarling "I like Buckhead just fine" in response, with nothing to stop her. And Sam, who analyzed people's behavior for a living, would never be able to let that one go. They were in for it now; no putting this conversation off another day.

"Well, what's wrong, then? You've been acting strangely all morning -- all week, really." She gestured toward the abandoned paper by way of example. "I'd think you'd want to find a new place as quickly as possible, get out of this," prison, she didn't say, but Angel heard it in the tone of her voice, "fortress. Move on with our lives, and -- move on." Again, words hovered between them, unspoken but not unheard: and leave Jack behind.

"Do you know you never even asked me if I wanted to move back to the farmhouse?" she asked abruptly, seemingly apropos of nothing.

Sam blinked, clearly taken aback. "No, I -- I just assumed that you'd want to stay here. Your career's finally starting to take off, you've made a lot of connections...and there are a lot more people willing to spend money on original art here in a big city like Atlanta than there are in a rural farming community...." She trailed off. "No. I'm sorry. I should have asked; you're absolutely right. I'm sorry."

Angel felt a sudden sharp weakening of her defenses, and an upwelling of pure affection; this demonstration that Sam understood her better than anyone else on the planet, including her own mother, blindsided her. She found herself questioning her decision. "It's all right," she said, and touched the other woman's arm briefly to let her know she was forgiven.

Sam smiled back at her -- a smile so sweet and happy that Angel nearly burst into tears at the sight of it -- and relaxed into her chair once again. "So...do you want to move back to your farm? That's a little too far for me to commute, but I'm sure Bailey and I could work something out...."

And, just like that, the tension was back. "That's okay," she said sharply. "I don't want to move back."

That blond head tilted in a familiar movement as Sam looked at her, studying her with the full intensity of those penetrating eyes. Being the object of that focused, intelligent gaze, feeling the power of it -- it was almost frightening. Somehow, it was also unnervingly erotic and arousing, too. Irritated with herself, Angel squashed both sensations down; no time for them now.

But all Sam said was, "Okay. So -- Buckhead, then?"

And that was it. She'd had all of this conversation that she was going to take; she couldn't stand it anymore. "I already found a new place," she blurted, then grabbed her plate and scurried over to the sink, pretending to wash it so she could avoid looking at her lover.

There was a stunned silence behind her. Then, "Talk about making assumptions! Don't you think you should have at least mentioned it to me first? And Chloe too; don't you think we all should be involved in such a big decision? We'll be living there too, you know."

Angel's grip on the soapy plate tightened. "For me, a place for me. My place." This time the silence felt confused, not stunned; apparently, Sam still didn't get it. Turning around, she enunciated clearly and precisely. "You won't be living there too. I'm moving out. I need to be on my own for a while."

"Moving out." Her voice was utterly devoid of all expression; Angel winced. The last time Sam had sounded like that was right after Tom was killed. "You're leaving me."

"No!" The denial sprang instantly to her lips, leaving her feeling rather silly -- because, when you got right down to it, that was exactly what she was doing. But, for some reason, she persevered, saying, "I'm not leaving. Not for good. I just need a little space right now, okay? I'm not going far."

"Oh, stop it. Just -- stop it. I know a break-up when I see one. You're moving out, you got a new place -- you don't even know where I'm living yet, so how do you know you're not going far? You're dumping me."

"No! Sam--"

"My god, you must have been planning this for -- forever! Just how long have you wanted to get away from me? Was Jack all that was keeping you here? As soon as it was safe, as soon as we caught him, you're out the door! Is that it?"

"Yes!" The shout rang throughout the small kitchen. "All right?! Yes. I couldn't leave while Jack was still out there, I just couldn't do that to you. You needed me. I couldn't abandon you like that."

"You don't seem to have any problem with it now," Sam muttered.

Angel sucked in a breath, surprised and hurt by the low blow. It was out of character; Sam never fought dirty. She was almost unreasonably fair, all the time -- it was simultaneously the best and worst thing about arguing with her. So the comment stung painfully, but it was also strangely flattering, in a dysfunctional kind of way. It must be important, for Sam to fight so hard for it....

"But you don't need me anymore," she said softly. "Jack's caught. He's behind bars -- you put him there! You don't need me."

Sam exhaled sharply and ran her hands over her face, looking suddenly tired. "Oh, Angel."

"And I really need some time to myself," she continued doggedly, pretending she hadn't heard the hurt sadness in her friend's voice, ignoring the implicit I'll always need you. "I need some perspective. I need to--"

"To get away from me, is that it?"

"I am a human being in my own right, you know! Not everything in my life revolves around you!"

Sam's jaw dropped in astonishment. "Well, of course not! Is that...you think I...."

Before Sam got control of her stuttering tongue, Angel said, much more gently, "I know. I know you don't think that. But --" She stopped, unsure how to continue.

"But what?"

"But it feels that way lately. Like...my life doesn't matter anymore, except in relation to you. Like I've been subsumed by you, lost in you. I had to move, come live here, change my life around -- because of things that happened to you. Kidnapped to put pressure on you...." The horror-stricken guilt on Sam's face reminded Angel of why she had been so reluctant to begin this conversation in the first place. "You stop that right now," she barked. "It's not your fault. It's Jack's. Him and all the other psychos out there. Okay? They're the ones who see people as things, as tools to be used -- not you. Got that?"

After a moment, Sam nodded. "Got it," she said faintly.

"Good. Don't you forget it."

"All right. But -- you're still leaving, aren't you."

A beat. Then, "Yes. I am."

"Why? I think you owe me that, at least. Tell me why."

"Because...," Angel said slowly, articulating her reasons for the first time. "I need...I need to be able to remember who I am when I'm not in hiding. I need to re-learn how to live free. I need to...recover myself."

"Can't you do that here with me?" Sam asked plaintively.

"I wish I could, I really do. But you're too tied up with this mess in my mind. I can't think about you without thinking about it. Not right now, anyway. Maybe later." She paused, then continued. "I'm sorry. But I just can't be around you right now."

Silence.

Sam breathed heavily for a few moments, before saying, "Well. That's it then. You do what you have to do."

"Thank you." Her voice was tiny and weak, even to her own ears. She knew this was right, she knew it was important for her sanity's sake -- but, nevertheless, this was an argument that a rather substantial part of her hadn't wanted to win.

Her hands hurt. She looked down and only then realized that she was still tightly gripping the forgotten breakfast dish. She turned back to the sink and put it down, deliberately, then picked up a glass from the counter and started to scrub.

Behind her, she could hear Sam start to clear off the table. They worked next to each other in silence for a while. Then Sam said, trying to make a joke of it and failing miserably, "You know, when I said I thought you wanted to move on, this isn't what I meant."

"I'm not moving on."

"You're not?"

"No," she insisted. "I'm not putting our relationship behind me. I'll come back." Someday.

"Moving out, then."

"I guess...but that doesn't sound right either. I'll still be around. I'll still watch Chloe. We'll still be in each other's lives."

"You're not moving out."

"No."

"And you're not moving on."

"No!"

"So what are you doing, then?" she asked skeptically.

"I'm moving..." The word hung in the air, unresolved, while Angel tried to decide how to finish. "I'm moving," she said finally. "Just...moving."

Sam put the orange juice back in the refrigerator, closed the door firmly, then turned and met Angel's gaze. "I hope so. Because I," she said, very clearly and deliberately, "am not going anywhere."

Angel looked at her for a moment, eyes wide. "Oh," she said. "Oh." All right, Sam, she thought. I hear you. Message received, loud and clear. She hesitated, wondering how to respond--

Then she turned and left the room, shutting the kitchen door behind her.

THE END

 


Like it? Hate it? Let me know! Please send me feedback at aimee_2@hotmail.com.

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